Mindfulness for smoking cessation

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Background: Mindfulness-based smoking cessation interventions may aid smoking cessation by teaching individuals to pay attention to, and work mindfully with, negative affective states, cravings, and other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Types of mindfulness-based interventions include mindfulness training, which involves training in meditation; acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT); distress tolerance training; and yoga. Objectives: To assess the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions for smoking cessation among people who smoke, and whether these interventions have an effect on mental health outcomes. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group's specialised register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and trial registries to 15 April 2021. We also employed an automated search strategy, developed as part of the Human Behaviour Change Project, using Microsoft Academic. Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and cluster-RCTs that compared a mindfulness-based intervention for smoking cessation with another smoking cessation programme or no treatment, and assessed smoking cessation at six months or longer. We excluded studies that solely recruited pregnant women. Data collection and analysis: We followed standard Cochrane methods. We measured smoking cessation at the longest time point, using the most rigorous definition available, on an intention-to-treat basis. We calculated risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for smoking cessation for each study, where possible. We grouped eligible studies according to the type of intervention and type of comparator. We carried out meta-analyses where appropriate, using Mantel-Haenszel random-effects models. We summarised mental health outcomes narratively. Main results: We included 21 studies, with 8186 participants. Most recruited adults from the community, and the majority (15 studies) were conducted in the USA. We judged four of the studies to be at low risk of bias, nine at unclear risk, and eight at high risk. Mindfulness-based interventions varied considerably in design and content, as did comparators, therefore, we pooled small groups of relatively comparable studies. We did not detect a clear benefit or harm of mindfulness training interventions on quit rates compared with intensity-matched smoking cessation treatment (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.67 to 1.46; I2 = 0%; 3 studies, 542 participants; low-certainty evidence), less intensive smoking cessation treatment (RR 1.19, 95% CI 0.65 to 2.19; I2 = 60%; 5 studies, 813 participants; very low-certainty evidence), or no treatment (RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.43 to 1.53; 1 study, 325 participants; low-certainty evidence). In each comparison, the 95% CI encompassed benefit (i.e. higher quit rates), harm (i.e. lower quit rates) and no difference. In one study of mindfulness-based relapse prevention, we did not detect a clear benefit or harm of the intervention over no treatment (RR 1.43, 95% CI 0.56 to 3.67; 86 participants; very low-certainty evidence). We did not detect a clear benefit or harm of ACT on quit rates compared with less intensive behavioural treatments, including nicotine replacement therapy alone (RR 1.27, 95% CI 0.53 to 3.02; 1 study, 102 participants; low-certainty evidence), brief advice (RR 1.27, 95% CI 0.59 to 2.75; 1 study, 144 participants; very low-certainty evidence), or less intensive ACT (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.50 to 2.01; 1 study, 100 participants; low-certainty evidence). There was a high level of heterogeneity (I2 = 82%) across studies comparing ACT with intensity-matched smoking cessation treatments, meaning it was not appropriate to report a pooled result. We did not detect a clear benefit or harm of distress tolerance training on quit rates compared with intensity-matched smoking cessation treatment (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.26 to 2.98; 1 study, 69 participants; low-certainty evidence) or less intensive smoking cessation treatment (RR 1.63, 95% CI 0.33 to 8.08; 1 study, 49 participants; low-certainty evidence). We did not detect a clear benefit or harm of yoga on quit rates compared with intensity-matched smoking cessation treatment (RR 1.44, 95% CI 0.40 to 5.16; 1 study, 55 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Excluding studies at high risk of bias did not substantially alter the results, nor did using complete case data as opposed to using data from all participants randomised. Nine studies reported on changes in mental health and well-being, including depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and negative and positive affect. Variation in measures and methodological differences between studies meant we could not meta-analyse these data. One study found a greater reduction in perceived stress in participants who received a face-to-face mindfulness training programme versus an intensity-matched programme. However, the remaining eight studies found no clinically meaningful differences in mental health and well-being between participants who received mindfulness-based treatments and participants who received another treatment or no treatment (very low-certainty evidence). Authors' conclusions: We did not detect a clear benefit of mindfulness-based smoking cessation interventions for increasing smoking quit rates or changing mental health and well-being. This was the case when compared with intensity-matched smoking cessation treatment, less intensive smoking cessation treatment, or no treatment. However, the evidence was of low and very low certainty due to risk of bias, inconsistency, and imprecision, meaning future evidence may very likely change our interpretation of the results. Further RCTs of mindfulness-based interventions for smoking cessation compared with active comparators are needed. There is also a need for more consistent reporting of mental health and well-being outcomes in studies of mindfulness-based interventions for smoking cessation.




Jackson, S., Brown, J., Norris, E., Livingstone-Banks, J., Hayes, E., & Lindson, N. (2022, April 14). Mindfulness for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD013696.pub2

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